Radford bags its first NCAA tourney win

Radford bags its first NCAA tourney win

Radford bags its first NCAA tourney win

The 2018 NCAA tournament begins on Tuesday, March 13, with the "First Four" at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

In the first "First Four" play-in game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, LIU Brooklyn and Radford will square off, with the victor claiming the No. 16 seed and a date with top-seeded Villanova in the East Region. Central (6:40 p.m. Eastern) on TruTV.

Radford didn't play its prettiest game, but the team from rural southwest Virginia will celebrate briefly before heading to Pittsburgh to play No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday.

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"I trust every player on our bench is going to come in and get their job done", said Polite, the Highlanders' All-Big South Conference forward.

The program previously had made two March Madness appearances, but those trips resulted in losses of 36 points to Duke in 1998 and 43 points to North Carolina in 2009.

The victor gets No. 1 Villanova on Thursday. It's the only way they'll be able to break through a stout Radford defense that allowed 64.4 points per game, 14th-best in the nation.

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The Highlanders won their last seven contests, including the Big South title game, while the co-16th seeded Blackbirds are on a five-game win streak that ended with a Northeast Conference championship. After a first-round win over Lafayette, the Wildcats fell to No. 9 seed North Carolina State, 71-68, in the second round. The Blackbirds are coached by Derek Kellogg, who is in his first season after spending nine years at MA where he took the Minutemen to the Big Dance once.

Clark and Hernandez compose the most unsafe pair of scorers in the conference, and collectively averaged 47.0 points per game in LIU Brooklyn's run in its conference tournament.

Ed Polite Jr. had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Travis Fields Jr. also scored 13 for Radford. (13.5 ppg) and Carlik Jones (11.8). Then again, if Villanova picks up right where they left off in the Big East tournament with their tough style of play, they should be just fine against Radford.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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